Review: Super Mario 3D World revives and Bowser’s Fury points to the future

When it launched on WiiU in 2013, Super Mario 3D World felt like a revelation, for indicating that Nintendo was seriously starting to chart a new course for its bread-and-butter platform franchise. The game is a veritable amusement park of innovative ideas and mechanics wrapped up in kinetic puzzle solving, and more than a Super Mario Bros. liberation bears the trace of its influence. Perhaps inevitably, Super Mario 3D World feels all the more at home on the Switch alongside Super Mario Odyssey, who all but perfected his already winning formula in 2017 before taking it to the stratosphere. The icing on the cake? The inclusion of a new game, Bowser’s Furywhich finds Nintendo again pushing the envelope of Super Mario Bros. in exciting directions.

Running, jumping, collecting coins and stars, bouncing off enemy heads – these have been the core mechanics of the series since the original game was released in 1985. But there have been major upheavals along the way, none more seismic than that of 1996. Super Mario 64from which Super Mario 3D World took more than a few pages. True innovation is often dispensed in small doses in Nintendo’s flagship series. Typically a Super Mario Bros. the game relies on one main gimmick for an entire campaign. However, Super Mario 3D World is a gadget game. Instead of dropping players into a vast open world, it takes you step by step of self-contained wonder, brimming with clever delights that rarely repeat and, more importantly, never outstay their welcome.

When entering a given stage, you never know exactly what needs to be done to achieve the goal. A simple run through a meadow could send you flying into a cloud and running for your life at full speed through the skies. (As such, the only major upgrade offered by this Switch port – a noticeable improvement in movement speed, addressing a long-standing complaint about the WiiU version – will feel like a mercy to returning gamers.) A disco-themed stage has platforms that disappear and reappear to the beat, then throw a curve ball with a cherry object that allows Mario to spawn up to four times, enemies doing the same, and puzzles requiring a set of Marios to work together in tandem. A Japanese Pagoda stage requires using the touch screen to open doors, hit gongs and hit enemies, and stealth if you want to successfully collect all the stars after donning your Goomba costume.

Super Mario 3D World introduced a new power-up, the Super Bell, which allows players to transform into a cat, one of the biggest and most hilarious upsets to ever come out of the series. With the combination, players have the power to scale surfaces vertically and as high as possible. Not just an invitation for players to explore to their heart’s content, the power of combination works to completely obscure how linear the stage designs are.

These are largely the kind of seed ideas that would fully bloom in Super Mario Odyssey and those who Bowser’s Fury takes ambitious new directions. Set in a tropical paradise overrun by cats – lovingly influenced by Japan’s famous “Cat Island” – a poisonous slime has transformed Bowser into a hulking, unholy kaiju terror that rains fire on every inch of the landscape, and c It’s up to Mario and Bowser’s own son to figure out how to shrink him down to size. This involves collecting Cat Shines – basically, Super Mario Sunbut with cat ears and uses them to power lighthouses scattered across a chain of islands.

This will sound familiar to anyone who has played Super Mario Odyssey, but there are no extra lives here. Dying costs coins, finally giving them real purpose for the first time in the series in decades. Each island is connected and wide open, making the experience of playing the game less about raising the flag at the end of a course and more about anticipating Bowser’s approach, forcing you to gather resources fairly quickly to escape its barrage of fire, rain and lightning. And it’s a more nerve-wracking experience than you might expect.

On the other side Bowser’s FuryIn the three- to four-hour campaign, Mario is not beholden to the rules of each stage, but rather the world is beholden to him, and the player by proxy. By breaking down the boundaries between levels and pitting you against an ever-present threat, the game forces you to view its world as an interconnected web of challenges. Even an aimless stroll around the island never seems aimless. Whether you find yourself heading to the nearest Cat Shine or just hanging out with the family of cats who live on an impossible ledge, the island paradise of Bowser’s Fury is a joyful invitation to stroll.

Which isn’t to say that Nintendo filled every stage with meager collectibles and side quests. Bowser’s Fury truly breathes with a sense of freedom and spontaneity, allowing you to approach Bowser’s problem however you see fit. Each quest’s objectives may follow typical Mario rules, but failing never feels like a bottleneck. When things get hairy you’ll find yourself, yes, farming power-ups or just looking for areas of refuge, but you don’t feel the game pulling you towards a flag or a star nearly as much as previous titles in the game. series .

This game was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer.


Developer: nintendo Editor: nintendo Platform: To change Release date: February 12, 2021 ESRB: E ESRB Descriptions: Light cartoon violence To buy: Game

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